Document Type


Publication Date



This forum argues that environmental historians ought to pay more attention to animal extinction—the disappearance of a lineage of life—than they have to date. Examining the pre-and post-extinction contexts of charismatic terrestrial vertebrates in the Americas certainly underscores the power humans have had over other animals and their habitats. Yet, the contingencies and unexpected results of conservation efforts merit no less attention. Indeed, by uncovering important nuances in the extension of human power, they provide insights into the conditions critical to avoid extinction. As environmental history has long shown, abstracting the human from the nonhuman world distorts the history of both. Thus, leaving extinction to other disciplines misrepresents what historians can offer and how societies can address ongoing crises of extinction. In this forum, historians partner with scientists in collaboratively composed essays, negotiated across stylistic conventions and subject orientations, to highlight the latent promise of such partnerships. In doing so, they engage spatial and temporal scales that clearly illustrate the significance of deep history and historicize extinction by calling attention to the power, production, and scales of species decline.

Copyright Statement

This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. The final, definitive version of this document can be found online at Environmental History, volume 27, number 2, April 2022. © 2022 Forest History Society and American Society for Environmental History. All rights reserved. Published by the University of Chicago Press on behalf of American Society for Environmental History and the Forest History Society. This accepted manuscript is under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 License.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Included in

History Commons